Cyprus Mail

Justice minister: it will take time to clean up football

Attorney-general Giorgos Savvides

Justice Minister Giorgos Savvides has once again called on anyone who is in possession of useful information about corruption and bribery in Cypriot football to report to the authorities to help them investigate.

Savvides also urged Omonia Nicosia’s president Stavros Papastavrou, who has been at the forefront of the latest allegations of corruption, “to speak up and help clear the dirt around football in the country”.

He added that the police are preparing a detailed dossier containing information regarding suspected illegal betting in specific games to send to Uefa. However, he also said there are no new developments on the matter.

“If we want to move forward and root out the issues of corruption on match fixing, we need to study them carefully before we take any tangible action,” Savvides said on Thursday.

“We are not avoiding the problem, but first we need concrete proof for the allegations made. The Uefa representatives that arrived in Cyprus last week agreed on this point. Only through thorough investigation and undisputable proof of foul play can we clean up our act.”

The justice mMinister also commented on Papastavrou’s declarations made during a press conference on January 27.

Omonia Nicosia’s chairman and main investor claimed the league title could be bought for a price and that the club would be taking a series of measures to expose allegedly dishonest referees as well as alleged bribery of players.

“When I met him in person a while ago, he did not mention these problems to me,” Savvides said.

“Once again, if he can substantiate his claims, I urge him to report everything to the police, so they can verify for themselves and open an investigation.”

Savvides also confirmed he will try to arrange a meeting between Papastavrou and the chief of police Kypros Michaelides in the upcoming days.

“Right now there are about 15 special police officers investigating match fixing claims, but, so far, we do not have enough testimony or proof that can allow us to open a case in court. We have record of suspect betting activity coming from countries that do not keep a detailed record and have so far refused to provide us with additional data,” he said, adding that the police had requested more information.

Meanwhile, the chairman the CFA will hold a meeting with the referee association on February 4 to discuss having foreign referees officiating first division fixtures.

A CFA announcement effectively confirmed what had been reported recently that it had decided to use foreign referees after the latest claims and complaints about the officiating standards.

CFA president Giorgos Koumas will meet with the board of the referee association with the focus being “the decision of the association’s executive committee to invite foreign referees to officiate league games.”

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